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Farron calls on Government to let "farmers' farm" following revelation that 1 in 4 live in poverty

December 8, 2009 12:00 AM

The Government must start giving British farmers more support to allow "farmers to farm", according to Liberal Democrat Rural Affairs Spokesperson Tim Farron, who was commenting after official figures released by Defra revealed that a quarter of farm households in England are living in poverty.

Responding to a Parliamentary Question about the number of farmers who live in poverty, Farming Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said 25 per cent of farm households were 'below the modified low income threshold'.

With the global population expected to increase to 9bn by 2050, experts have warned that food production will need to increase by 100% to keep pace. Mr Farron is urging the Government to reduce the amount of bureaucracy placed on farmers and to offer more practical support to encourage farmers to produce food without undermining their environmental benefits.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"These figures just go to show the extent of the damage caused by a decade of Labour disrespect to British farming.

"We now have a situation where the average hill farmer is earning less per hour than a part time student stacking shelves at a supermarket.

"Investing more money into the Upland Entry Level Stewardship scheme will ensure hill farmers are rewarded for their role as stewards of the countryside, but will also allow them to produce more food-which will be vital given the need to double food production globally by 2050.

"Huge numbers of farm businesses are also struggling to breaking even because of the costs and regulatory burdens imposed from Whitehall. We need to cut through the huge amount of red tape preventing farmers from farming. This means re-organising the way in which payments are made under the Single Farm Payment scheme to ensure they are delivered to farmers efficiently, effectively and on time.

"Unless the Government starts introducing real tangible support to our farmers, there is a very real risk that huge numbers simply won't be able to carry on."